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Environmental Response Team

The Environmental Response Team (ERT) is a FDEP founded team whose members are from different State and county organizations from around the State of Florida. Members volunteer to be a part of the team but are selected for their capabilities.

ERT sampling drum

Environmental Response Team sample contents of a drum.

ERT provides technical assistance as well as investigative and forensic sampling support at an event in which an environmental pollution incident or public health threat, outlined under Chapters 403 and 376, F.S., has occurred. A request for the team’s deployment may come from local fire departments, the State Watch Office, the Regional Domestic Security Task Force, local emergency management directors, or other State and Federal agencies.

The ERT has the ability to have at least a partial team on-scene in no more than two (2) hours of the request for assistance with the full team on-scene within eight (8) hours. The ERT has environmental investigators and other law enforcement personnel who can enter contaminated areas known as “hot-zones” for the purpose of documenting and collecting criminal evidence. Additionally, the ERT has trained technician-level responders that have the ability to conduct forensic sampling of unknown materials for the purpose of field and analytical testing at an appropriate support laboratory.

At present, members have been drawn from the following agencies:

  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Department of Health (DOH)
  • Approaching overturned drum in the exclusion zone

    Environmental Response Team approaching overturned drum in the exclusion zone.

  • Department of Financial Services, Fire and Arson
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), RDSTF Forensics
  • CSX Corporation
  • Florida Highway Patrol
  • Local Law Enforcement

While the ERT was born out of the 9/11 tragedy and consequently receives a large portion of it’s funding from the Department of Homeland Security, the team has recently began to focus on more common incident types. These incidents might include; large amounts of abandoned industrial waste, clandestine labs, illegal dump sites that occur on State lands, etc.

Such was the scenario during the Spring 2014 full-scale exercise which was conducted over a four-day period from April 8 – April 11, 2014 at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala, FL. This exercise simulated an environmental crime in a state park involving hazardous materials with an unfolding terrorism element. ERT worked with the regional Forensic Response Team and both groups successfully completed the exercise, as determined by the third party evaluator EREC. The exercise was an advanced competency review and provided significant and specialized preparedness to each team member that upon completion, allowed member to take competencies back to their individual departments to enhance their day-to-day duties.

Environmental Response Team instructional video


Last updated: June 26, 2015

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